Oral contract between Shaun Edwards and Wigan is ‘binding’, says sports lawyer

A sports lawyer has insisted that any oral contract agreed between Shaun Edwards and Wigan could be binding, and sufficient enough to bring about legal action – as the saga between the Warriors and their future head coach continues.

Peter Stewart, an associate at Cooke, Young and Keidan, believes that the Warriors could have a case for legal action if Edwards takes another job elsewhere if an oral contract between the parties does exist.

Stewart said: “In a case such as this, the primary issue that needs to be resolved is whether or not an employment contract was formed between the Wigan Warriors and Mr Edwards. There is no legal requirement under English law for an employee to have a signed contract with his or her employer. An oral contract is binding.

“Nevertheless, there must have been both certainty during the talks between the club and Mr Edwards in August 2018 as to the principal terms (salary, duration of the employment etc.) and an intention on the part of both parties that the orally agreed terms would be legally binding. In the absence of a signed contract, these requirements are more difficult to prove.”

Stewart continued, however, that it would be unlikely to be a matter to head to court.

He said: “On the assumption that an oral contract does exist and if Mr Edwards were to take up employment elsewhere, it might be possible for Wigan Warriors to bring a claim against him for breach of contract if it can show that it has suffered loss. It is, however, likely to be preferable for both parties to settle this matter without resorting to legal action. This would avoid the personal conflicts and significant legal costs that tend to arise in litigation of this kind, as well as the adverse publicity that often accompanies such public disagreements.”

Edwards is being linked with a role with the England rugby union side as growing uncertainty over his return to rugby league continues to linger.